Wah Kee Chinese Noodle and Restaurant
In a word: Stable and consistent.
The specs: #0730
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, City Search, Early Runner, Hungry in Milwaukee, Eating Madison, Likey, No Likey, Trip Advisor, Google, Yahoo! Travel; listing at Eat Drink Madison; chatter at TDPF;
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JM ate the sesame chicken with a Thai lemonade.
Nichole ate the pho ga with an Oberon.
We split a pork bun and some crab rangoon.
The bill was $32, or $16/person, plus tip.
JM gave Wah Kee Chinese Noodle and Restaurant a B; Nichole gave Wah Kee Chinese Noodle and Restaurant a B+ (see our grading rubric).
We'd been to Wah Kee a long time ago, when we first tried to go to Essen Haus and discovered it wasn't open. That night we were reconnecting with old friends who'd found us through the blog (thanks, blog!) so we weren't about to head home in defeat; looking around the immediate neighborhood, which at the time included Cleveland's and Bandung, we settled on Wah Kee and it proved a nice, low-key place to get some stir fry and noodles.
Since that visit in 2006, they've spruced up the dining room. We remember it being far more fast-food red and yellow than its current clean, warm maroon with typical Chinese-restaurant tschotschkes. There were TVs tuned to TCM, but the volume was low. The menu was extensive but we stuck to our favorites, which we were ambivalent about. It's a noodle house, and one could spend weeks just sampling all the house-made noodles here.
A crab rangoon starter featured six squares of fresh, savory filling with scallions and something reminiscent of traditional stuffing flavor - sage or celery, maybe. Not much krab or crab was in evidence, but a prettily presented dish of sweet and sour sauce with a swirl of hot mustard was a nice touch. A single pork bun was delicious: faintly sweet, soft steamed dough around tender onions, cubed roast pork and ginger.
The sesame chicken with teriyaki sauce and toasted black and white seeds was fine, but plain. JM, in what can only be called the EiMAtZ coup, wished that vegetables had been included. Peppers or broccoli or something, c'mon. It tasted fine, but seriously, how difficult is breaded fried chicken? It needs a little somethin', somethin'.
If you thought of the pho ga as pho it was far from the standard (as set by expert sources such as Pho Fever). If you looked at it as comforting chicken noodle soup it was excellent. The broth was slightly cloudy and not very complex in flavor, though the salt level was right on target. The soup didn't come with a garnish plate. Instead, lime, cilantro, basil and bean sprouts mixed with small but numerous strips of white meat chicken in the bowl. The noodles were also pale white, with little to no clumping. The portion size was perfect: despite choosing a rather filling wheat beer, Nichole finished the bowl.